294. The 108: A Short Note on A Big ‘Irish’ Billiard
I first caught sight of the elusive 108 on the internet some years ago and I’ve wondered about it ever since—how big it was, when it debuted, what lines it appeared it and why it disappeared. It’s so very, very Irish. It’s the largest regular production billiard they’ve ever made. Discounting the House Pipe and (of course) the Giant, which was never a regular production issue. I’ve wanted to see one in real life for some time and got my wish a few weeks ago, only to notice this two more of them on eBay this week. Wow.
Discounting the House Pipe and the Giant (which was never a regular production shape), the 108 is sui generis (you know, it’s own thing).
First of all, it’s the largest of the multitude of 100s in the shape group. They’re first seen in the 1906 catalog and have been with us ever since, a few of the numbers even taking on completely different shapes decades later. We all know about the 104, 105, 106 and 107. A few of us know there’s a 101 and a diamond-shank 109. But the 108?
I never been much interested in documenting the 100 group because apart from the Chubby 107, there’s nothing remotely Irish about them. They’re just straight billiards, or perhaps straight English-style billiards—which is fine, but I’m just sayin’. You can put a P-Lip and a nickel or sterling band as visible markers but the design language is still firmly English.
The 108, however, is not only larger than the Chubby 107, but more importantly speaks Irish. I know this because I’ve spoken to mine:
Mark: An labhraíonn tú Gaeilge? [Do you speak Irish?]
Donegal 108: Sea, tá Gaeilge agam. Labhraím Gaeilge Kapp & Peterson! [Yes, I speak Irish. I speak Kapp & Peterson Irish!]
What I mean by saying the 108 speaks Irish is three things, all of which make it score higher in my own understanding of K&P’s design language than any other billiard they’ve ever made:
First, it’s got a bulldozer of a bowl: big, bold, brazen, bodacious, bellicose—you get the picture. Notice the chin that juts out at the bottom. It’s saying, ‘If you think you’re man enough, take a swing and see what happens.’
Second, it’s got an Irish bend. You notice that slight curve as the stem moves toward the button? That’s Irish, lads. No one else does that but the Irish. I suspect K&P invented this bend but has never consciously said to themselves, “Now that’s the way to bend a Irish straight pipe.” They just know it. It’s in their DNA. Only a straight Irish pipe can have a bend. You get that, right? You’re a Pete Geek, so you know.
Finally, it’s got a massive shank. You can’t have a first class, top-drawer Irish design without serious muscle. That’s probably why Jonathan, Kevin and several other of the lads at the factory all pump weight out back during their lunch break while they check out their new tattoos. They know this.
And of course it’s got the P-Lip graduated bore and a nickel mount. ‘Nuff said.
So when did the 108 appear? It’s not in any of the catalogs or ephemera, that’s for dang sure. To answer this rhetorical question, I can provide a bit of documentary evidence by way of three different sightings, all from the late 1980s to early 1990s.
Grainy photo from an internet sighting of the Emerald 108 (yes, that’s Pebble Grain rustication)
The Emerald line debuted in the 1997 catalog, seven years into the Dublin era.
You can’t really see the magnificent chin of this unusual 9mm 108 Premier in Mike’s eBay store, but wow it’s gorgeous
The Premier has been around a long time. The photo above, by Mike Bearra from his Penspipesandmore eBay store, is listed as a Premier 9mm with the MITROI stamp. I can’t see the Premier stamp in his photos but take his word for it. He and his Dad do marvelous work, don’t they?
The third is the Donegal, which is now resting comfortably with my select cohort of Donegals of the same vintage. The rustication is strictly Donegal of the era, nothing great but feels good under the thumb and forefinger.
Why the shape was discontinued is anyone’s guess. It was certainly a mistaken from my point of view and from the standpoint of a cool, clear and collected analysis of the Peterson house style (that would describe you and me both). But there’s clearly two straight billiards we can call ‘Irish.’ (Yeah, probably more, but I’m out of time as the clock nears midnight.)
Oh, and the second sighting is the identical twin of the one above. Not mine I hasten to add, but the same year. Also on eBay.
Measurements & Other Details
Length: 5.75 in / 146 mm
Weight: 2 oz / 55 gr
Bowl Height: 2.10 in / 53.3 mm
Chamber Depth: 1.68 in / 42.7 mm
Chamber Diameter: .80 in / 20 mm
Outside Diameter: 1.63 in / 41.6 mm
Stem: Vulcanite P-Lip
Filter: None for the Donegal Rocky
Shape: Irish Billiard
Era: Dublin (1991-2018)
Hallmark: F (1991)
Banner: with apologies to H. M. Bateman
catch & release
A couple of fun Petes this week for catch & release. You can see them here.